Seaworthiness, Sailing Comfort, & Speed All in a Fun 29' Sailboat
Until recently, it didn’t make sense. Why would anyone want a larger, more expensive boat than a J/24 if they couldn’t stand up in it? Times are changing. The fantasy of sailing around the world in a self-contained household is giving way to the realities of sailing closer to home.
How many people drive GMC motor homes as a family sports car? Why sacrifice speed, ease of handling, driving or sailing comfort for residential features which aren’t fully utilized? We all are becoming more selective in our expenditures ... less willing to pay for something that won’t be used. Sailing is no different than other lifestyle sports. Knowledge and experience eventually lead to ownership of the best performing products.
Speed- Speed through the water is the most obvious factor in performance. Sailing speed improves daily cruising range, generates excitement and pride in one’s vessel, and makes one less dependent upon a motor.
One way to get more speed from a sailboat is to reduce weight of furnishings and equipment. Another way is to concentrate weight in the center of the boat. Both of these objectives have been achieved in the J/29 without sacrificing basic below-decks liveability.
The standard J/29 provides a comfortable midship "living room" with ice chest and sink for dockside gatherings or overnight cruising for two ... but nothing in the forward or aft third where each pound of weight adds to the "moment of inertia" to amplify pitching in waves.
The result is a smoother ride than on boats with heavier ends, hence less resistance and more speed.
J/29 Versus U.L.D.B.- There’s a limit on how far one can go in the pursuit of speed. Small, light, narrow and low can become tender, wet, and slow. And, U.L.D.B. (Ultra Light Displacement Boat) can become just plain U Boat.
Unfortunately, there are no chair lifts on the ocean. Those breezy conditions which make U.L.D.B.’s exhilarating downhill make for equally exhausting and wet climbs back uphill. The key to sailing (as opposed to surfing) performance is speed to windward.
Here’s where the J/29 excels. She will do 6.5 knots upwind which is good for a 40 footer. To do this in 15 knots of wind with full main and #I genoa is remarkable.
Seaworthiness- A primary reason for owning a 30 footer is to expand one’s sailing horizons ... to sail offshore in open water without those anxieties normally attributed to small boats. Going fast must then become secondary to seaworthiness.
The J/29 is a BIG, TOUGH boat engineered with large safety factors for crew error or severe offshore conditions.
Compare J/29 chainplates, bulkheads, keel support beams, rigging and hardware with economy cruisers and ULDB’s. Then imagine 35 knot squalls, dropping off 10 foot waves or
colliding with a rock pile at 8 knots. It happens all the time. That’s why J/36 structural bulkheads and keel beams were combined with the hull and rig of the J/30: 450 boats worth of testing including the Fastnet storm.
There’s enough freeboard and reserve buoyancy in the bow to keep from submarining when surfing under spinnaker in steep seas. The wide, flared sides of the hull slap waves down rather than up and onto the crew.
Ease of Handling- The standard fractional rigged J/29 sails under mainsail alone better than most 30 foot cruisers under full sail. This "no problem" alternative comes in handy getting through storms or crowded harbors.
There are few boats that will plane downwind under better control with spinnaker. The faster she goes, the more stable she becomes. After the first hour at 11 knots, you actually begin to relax and settle into normal shipboard routine.
Outboard Power?- Apart from being less costly and easier to maintain, the outboard engine on a J/29 is not the problem we thought it might be. The large transom and rudder help to hide the engine. The only time it has to be stored below is before a race, when there’s usually plenty of help around ... who’d rather do this than dive into cold water to band a prop. It’s quieter below during rest and stereo time for the off-watch. And, manueverability is improved in tight situations, because the motor can be turned with the rudder.
Optional Masthead Rig- A double spreader, tapered masthead rig with "in-line" shrouds and checkstays is offered as an option for those who are more accustomed to tuning and sailing such a rig ... particularly in areas where light winds prevail or for overnight races when it’s important to sustain speed with limited visibility.
One-Design Class- When sailing together as a Class, the J/29 Class Association rules will assess credits or debits in seconds per mile to handicap variations from the standard J/29 ... whether toward the cruising spectrum with forward " V " berth cabin or inboard auxiliary ... or for variations in rig which may prove faster. Differences may not be that great. At Block Island Week, three different rigs finished within seconds of each other after 20 miles on five different occasions.
In effect, the Class will adopt a PHRF type system to give every owner a fair chance to win. Since there’s only one boat to evaluate, the data base and decisions will be well founded.
Best Buy in Sailing Performance- The J/29 emphasizes sailing performance (speed, handling, seaworthiness and comfort underway) at the expense of below decks accommodations. The economy cruiser does the reverse: offering interior accommodations at the expense of sailing performance. If most of your time on the water is spent sailing, with an occasional overnight during the season, J/29 is the way to go.
For J/29 One-Design Class Information: http://www.j29class.net/
Introduced in: 1982 Last Model Year: 1987